EAMONN O’KANE can’t afford to bask in the glory of his fourth professional victory and has already taken to the roads in preparation for the biggest test of his career next May - the Irish Middleweight Prizefighter!
SIMON COLLINS reports
The hard-hitting Banagher puncher kept his perfect record intact with an impressive six round points win over English southpaw, Wayne Reed, in front of almost 10,000 people at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night.
As the curtain raiser on the undercard of Kell Brook’s clash with Matthew Hatton, O’Kane (11st 9lb 5oz) didn’t disappoint and won every round against the heavier Sheffield southpaw (12st 1lb 5oz), cruising to a 60-53 decision having scored a fifth round knockdown.
O’Kane was delighted to be involved in such an explosive fight card which featured Carl Frampton and was more importantly happy to make a winning return to the ring having frustratingly been out of action for almost seven months.
“I’m delighted I got the win but it was a decent performance as well,” said O’Kane. “He weighed in around 6 lbs. above me and ended up three quarters of a stone heavier than me come fight time, so I gave away a good bit of weight.
“He took some heavy shots and was trying to give them back. He was trying to wind me up as well. Every time I hit him he was shaking his body as if to say I didn’t hurt him. I was chatting to him afterwards and he told me that he was doing a bit of play-acting and goading me to get a breather.
“I like to look at my fights constructively and try and improve on my performances. I dropped him on the bell during the fifth round and his corner jumped in and wasted a bit of time. He got a full minute to recover and then he was crafty enough to hold on and survive. That’s part and parcel of the game.
“It was great to blow the cobwebs out of the system because my last fight was in September in the Odyssey and then with the accident over Christmas, it was good to get back in the ring, especially with the Irish Prizefighter coming up now in May.”
The 2010 Commonwealth Gold medallist had no problems countering Reed’s southpaw stance, having sparred regularly with Paul McCloskey and Andy Lee in the past and he quickly settled into action, bossing the first three rounds.
Indeed, O’Kane landed with plenty of clean head shots and Reed simply couldn’t settle behind his jab so he decided to go-toe to-toe and had some successes towards the end of the third.
The fourth round was an even affair. O’Kane controlled the first half of the round with his powerful and strong head-shots, but by the end of the three minutes Reed had finally found his jab, allowing him to control proceedings and box at long range.
The fifth was another fairly even session but O’Kane landed with a massive right hook on the bell which sent the Englishman to the canvas.
Reed took an eight-count but his legs looked fairly unsteady as he returned to his corner where he received a much needed pep-talk from his trainer, Glyn Rhodes.
O’Kane then controlled the final session as Reed was obviously feeling the effects of the head-shots, and the knock-down at the end of the fifth.
Light training resumed
The 30 year-old Co. Derry man will now move on to bigger and better things and has already begun training for that huge night in Belfast next May, where he will hope his ‘fast and furious’ style will be enough to win the first ever Irish Prizefighter title - the perfect platform to launch his bid for an Irish title.
“I was out for a run this morning and then I’m training again this evening so there’s no rest for the wicked,” revealed O’Kane yesterday. “It’s definitely going to be the toughest test for me.”
O’Kane has been involved in some major shows in his professional career already, particularly on the undercard of Paul McCloskey’s win over Breidis Prescott in the Odyssey Arena and Saturday’s ‘War of the Roses’ card in Sheffield . Therefore he believes he won’t be intimidated with the expected large attendance next May.
“There’s a lot of top quality boxers in the competition and it’s a risky one,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to be involved in some big nights during my four professional fights, but this will surely rank as the biggest.
“It’s a risky competition because it’s so fast and furious and so many things can happen or go wrong. If I can win this I’ll be in a good position for competing for Irish titles.”
Having already defeated Ballymena man Joe Rea last year, O’Kane will fear no one and, alongside coach, Gerard ‘Nugget’ Nugent and strength and conditioning coach, Oliver Cummings, they are devising the best approach for the Prizefighter format.
“I’ll definitely not fear anyone. As an amateur I fought the best but I will respect all the boxers involved. There’s a couple there who I’ll have to take note of. Joe Rea, Anthony Fitzgerald and Mark Heffron are three top boxers.
“It’s three, three minute rounds so you’re going to get the best out of everyone. It’ll be a tough tournament and if I win it I’ll be in a great position to further my career.
“My running, my sparring, circuit training, my bag work, pad-work will all change as far as preparing for this tournament goes. I’ll be aiming for more work at a higher tempo and I’ll work on my recovery in between rounds.
“A lot of the training will be about getting my body conditioned for the three fast rounds and recovering quickly to do it again.
“‘Nugget’ and Olliver Cummings are the bosses and I’ll do what I’m told. I’m confident they’ll have me in great condition come May,” he concluded.